NYTimes contributing writer Timothy Egan’s latest piece is about our ever-shrinking attention spans: a recent report clocked the average span at a grand total of eight seconds, down from the previously recorded 12. Yikes.
Luckily, he offers up two activities, gardening and reading, as solutions to keep our need for instant gratification in check. Yes and yes. As he says in the article, “You plant something in the cold, wet soil of the fall — tulip bulbs or garlic — and then you want to shout, “Grow!” Eight seconds later, nothing… The planting itself forces you to think in half-year-increments, or longer for trees and perennials.”
I would add that cooking makes for a good third option. Earlier tonight, hands covered in flour while kneading dough to make sourdough biscuits for an upcoming potluck, I was in no position to be using a touch screen. Maybe so-called technology diets should be supplemented with hands on engagement, and all the better if they’re activities that happen also to increase mindfulness, or self-sufficiency, or a connection with our food system.